HC Deb 17 June 1948 vol 452 cc653-4
Mr. Churchill

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he will state the rules and practice he is maintaining in respect of interventions by speech and vote in controversial party matters by officers holding active commands or employment under His Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

Civil servants are expected to maintain a reserve in political matters and not to put themselves forward prominently on one side or the other. They are required to resign as soon as they issue an address to electors or in any other manner announce themselves as Parliamentary candidates. A committee is at present considering whether any change is necessary in the existing limitations on the political activities of civil servants.

As regards members of the Armed Forces, paragraph 541 (a) of King's Regulations for the Army, and comparable regulations for the other Services, are relevant to matters of party controversy. Members of the Armed Forces in active command or employment should, of course, refrain from acting in any way command or employment, should of these regulations. Under the House of Commons (Service in His Majesty's Forces) Act, 1939, persons are not disqualified from election to or sitting in the House of Commons by reason only of holding office or place of profit under the Crown as a member of any of His Majesty's Forces. This Act was passed to deal with the position during the war and its appropriateness in present circumstances is under consideration.

Mr. Churchill

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his answer, which I think does require the careful consideration of the Government.